Comments from the public are invited at a virtual hearing on February 23 as the Gardiner Planning Board considers site plan and special use permit applications from Lumens Holdings/Sky Solar, the developers of a solar energy generation facility planned for a 49.1-acre parcel at 262 Libertyville Road. As the proposed site is adjacent to the New Paltz town line and the Field of Dreams park, residents of both towns may be interested in shaping the outcome.
Representing Lumens Holdings 3, LLC, Peter McAuliffe reported on the project’s progress at the January 26 Planning Board meeting. Developers are currently awaiting a response from the US Army Corps of Engineers in the form of a Preliminary Jurisdictional Determination as to whether they will need a permit to build an access road crossing federal wetlands on the property. They are also waiting on action from the Department of Transportation with regard to their driveway permit. Planning Board attorney Dave Brennan noted that the town can still move forward, making approvals conditional upon any necessary permits from other agencies being secured.
Gardiner Planning Board chair Paul Colucci noted several other modifications suggested by the Ulster County Planning Board, including a visual impact study, as well as comments already received from the Town of New Paltz expressing concern about whether visual buffering of the solar array would be adequate. Eric Kenna of C & S Engineers, Inc. acknowledged that a site visit had revealed “some gaps” in the screening along the Field of Dreams border of the property. “In the back half, the treeline got a little sparse,” he said, suggesting that the owners fill in the spaces between taller mature trees with shorter plantings. “This could be a showpiece for school kids to see a solar farm,” said board member Carol Richman. “The visual aesthetics could be important.”
The UCPB also called for provisions for regular stormwater inspections, according to Colucci. Kenna said that these would be spelled out in the project’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, which is “being finalized now.”
Board member Marc Moran questioned the Wildlife Management Plan submitted as part of the site plan package, saying that it included “lots of objectives” but not much in the way of specific steps to establish or maintain wildlife habitat. “If you’re building a ten-acre solar array, it’s going to have an impact,” he said. Richman recommended that the fence surrounding the array be raised above ground level “so that small mammals can go through.” Kenna agreed that “It doesn’t have to be a standard chain-link fence. Box-wire fencing could be considered.”
To participate in the public hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, use the meeting link at www.townofgardiner.org/planning-board-agenda. Comments can also be submitted in writing to the Gardiner town clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org.